Pilot makes emergency landing on New York City highway

Workers fixing potholes on the the highway stopped traffic to clear space for the plane to land after noticing it heading towards them

Drivers on a New York City highway received a shock on Saturday afternoon when a pilot touched down on the road after a plane developed engine trouble.

The small aircraft was forced to make the emergency landing while en route to Connecticut following a tour of the Statue of Liberty.

No one on board or on the ground was seriously hurt, police and fire officials said, with the male pilot and two female passengers taken to hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The plane, a Piper PA-28, set down at around 3:20 pm Saturday on the northbound side of the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx borough of the city.

Workers fixing potholes on the the highway stopped traffic to clear space for the plane to land after noticing it in distress and heading towards them, a Department of Transportation spokesman said.

The DOT crew then helped the plane's passengers out of the aircraft and inside a heated truck until emergency workers arrived.

Speaking to reporters, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the plane had departed from Danbury Municipal Airport in Connecticut and was on the return trip when it experienced engine problems.

“We have ... an extraordinary situation and actually a bit of a miracle, thank God, that happened today in our city,” he said, calling the successful highway landing, without any serious injuries or deaths, “amazing.”

“I thought I'd seen everything in my life,” he said.

The aircraft suffered only minor damage, The Federal Aviation Administration said. Photos taken by bystanders showed blue and white plane largely intact, but resting on its belly by the edge of the road.

It wasn't immediately clear what kind of engine problems the plane experienced. A spokeswoman for the FAA said it was investigating but said the National Transportation Safety Board would take over the investigation if it was determined the aircraft sustained a significant amount of damage.

The highway was closed and emergency personnel were on the scene until about 6 pm., when the plane was taken away on a flatbed truck to a local aviation facility.

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Patricia Sapol, 29, was driving south on the highway with her husband when they saw emergency vehicles surrounding the downed plane, about 15 minutes after the landing.

“We couldn't believe it! We thought, 'Oh my god that's a plane!' It was pretty incredible,” she said.